Years 7 and 8 present some big changes that your child (and you!) will have to get used to as quickly as possible.
While there are no important exams in Year 7 or 8, schools may set their own tests throughout the two years. Some will also set tests at the start of Year 7. They’ll use the results of these tests, along with the KS2 SATs, to place pupils in the correct set.
Year 9 presents one of the first major life decisions that your child will face: their GCSE options. While your child’s GCSE choices don’t necessarily determine the course of their life, they could impact their A-Level and career choices.
Here is everything you and your child need to know about choosing GCSEs.
Most of the courses or jobs that your child will eventually be applying for will expect a minimum of five GCSEs graded 9 to 4.
Having said that, most kids will take nine or ten GCSEs in total.
Different schools will have slightly different rules, but essentially the three core subjects that your child has to take are English, Maths, and Science.
English is often split into English Language and English Literature. Science can also be taken as separate GCSEs in Physics, Chemistry, and Biology.
If you or your child is unsure, it’s best to check with your school.
The exact time-frame will differ from school to school. Obviously, your child will start studying their GCSEs in Year 10, so it will generally be some time around the middle of Year 9.
Some schools will even start GCSE preparation at the end of Year 9. In this case, your child might have to select their subjects slightly earlier.
You should check with your child’s school if you want to know the exact dates.
This is largely dependent on your child’s school. There are, however, various common GCSE subjects that your child will usually have access to:
Foreign languages — These often include German, French, and Spanish. Some schools will also offer courses in Mandarin or Russian. (Note that some schools make learning a language at GCSE compulsory.)
Arts subjects — As well as Art itself, these also include Music, Drama, or Media Studies.
Humanities subjects — These are often more traditional subjects, such as History or Geography.
Technical subjects — These subjects include Design Technology, Food Technology, or Computer Science.
Choosing GCSE subjects can be difficult. A lot of teenagers have no idea what they want to do when they leave school, so there’s no way of deciding which GCSEs to study.
A good idea is for your child to simply choose subjects they enjoy. GCSEs are a big step up from any work they’ve done previously, so it’s important that they study subjects they’re actually interested in.
Most jobs and careers don’t require specific GCSE subjects so if your child doesn’t know what to do after school they don’t need to worry!